Joshua L. Schonfeld

Reflections on a Silver Anniversary

A few heartfelt thoughts on 25 years of marriage.

In our Jewish tradition, each Friday evening, as we welcome Shabbat into our homes, husbands recite (or periodically recite) a tribute to their wives. It is called אשת חיל, A Woman of Valor.

The spirit of this recitation is of gratitude…for all that a traditional Jewish wife would undertake for her family. If read literally, it would not come across as a very accurate description of what modern Jewish women do each week.  If read metaphorically, it is a wonderful way to express appreciation to the woman of the household at the start of the Sabbath meal — where, each week, Jewish families pause from their everyday work and gather to give thanks for what God has given us.

That sense of gratitude is how I feel as I reflect upon our 25 year wedding anniversary.

In September 1989, my wife Suzanne and I met at a party, on the dance floor of the ballroom of the historic Kennedy-Warren, in Washington, DC. We hit it off immediately. I have to admit that, for me, it was somewhat of a case of love at first sight. In fact, I knew I wanted to marry this woman after our second date.  After a whirlwind of dates and just hanging out together (while I worked on my masters degree), we were engaged in 7 months. We were married 7 months later, shortly before Thanksgiving–on November 17, 1990.

In truth, we barely knew each other when we got married.  Over time we debated and resolved many important issues — such as the pros and cons of refrigerated peanut butter, whether my clothes were too casual for Saturday evenings or why one has to bring (or at least offer to bring) something to someone’s house when they ask you to dinner. Most importantly, we determined early on that we would have a Jewish home.

As all married couples know, a marriage is not an easy thing to navigate. It takes intense commitment from both sides.  Parenting allows for wondrous moments, but can also leave you sleepless on occasion. As much as you plan…the unexpected will occur.  Over time, we have experienced some setbacks, but overall, we have been very fortunate.  We have stuck it out. Somewhat weathered, we have made it through an incredible adventure.

I think we have also helped each other along the way.

Suzanne has made me more grounded — and forced me to see the positive in things when I might otherwise only see the negative side.

We have been blessed with three wonderful sons. And as a result, Suzanne (a self-described, what used to be called, “girly” girl) has had the opportunity to experience and enjoy all sorts of what might have been considered guy activities. We have taken camping trips, gone canoeing, kayaking, rafting and hiking…to name just a few. Over the years, we have also attended countless baseball games — so many that my wife has become a true fan of the game. With three boys in tow, we have also gone to a number of other places Suzanne would not have been likely to visit…places like railroad museums and The Red Caboose Motel (twice!). The list also includes numerous stops along the sides of various country roads to simply stare at the night sky.

And together we have built a wonderful loving home — a traditional Jewish home. It is a home where we celebrate Shabbat and the Jewish holidays together — and often with friends. We are a family that has now been to Israel various times (and will go again in the future).  And soon, God willing, we will have graduated three sons from Jewish day school.  Our hope is that we have prepared our sons to successfully live in the world and that they will be inspired to continue our heritage and connection to Israel as they move forward in their own lives.

Suzanne’s love of cooking shines through as she has mastered challah baking, cholent, hamentashen, latkes, rugelach, various Italian dishes, Passover peach kugel, Thanksgiving dinner — and cooking elaborate meals while on our camping trips. She has also needle-pointed talit covers for all the men in our family and is a very talented teacher at our synagogue’s nursery school…introducing the next generation to our traditions and to Ahavat Yisroel (love of Israel). In short, I am quite proud of — and still in love with — my wife. And like the ideal woman described in Aishet Chayil (אשת חיל), she accomplishes a great deal every week.

Life is never perfect. There are always bumps in the road, as we like to say around our house. Sometimes even the best of friends and families can argue — but I am very glad to have the right navigator sitting beside me as we head down that road. Twenty-five years later, we have much to be grateful for. We do not take our blessings for granted.

And, as it turns out, my Saturday night wardrobe has been upgraded, we do bring food or wine to friends’ houses (or at least we always offer to), and I get to have un-refrigerated peanut butter.

“A woman of worth who can find? For her price is far above rubies.”

About the Author
Josh Schonfeld lives with his family in Potomac, Maryland. He is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. He has served as a board member for a number of Jewish communal organizations and is an active member of the community.